May 4, 2012

Litblogs: a health check


I’m sitting in a room with nine other people, each one of us an employee of (or employer at) a thriving publisher that grew out of — and still publishes (duh) — a litblog. So Iván Thays‘s latest post over at El País, which he kicks off by saying that blogs are dying, feels a little counterintuitive to me. So counterintuitive, in fact, that I’ve decided to blog about it.

In fairness, though, the man (an excellent blogger himself) has a point: he says it’s not enough any longer just to open an account and start posting. For a while in the heyday of litblogs it really was: drunk on the democratisation of lit crit, we collectively started what now seems an insane number of blogs, many offering very similar content. It’s no accident that these here interwebs are now littered with those dead blogs, last posts often dating to sometime in 2008. As we know, though, some of them did thrive (case in point this very one), and some of them died only because their authors went on to enjoy other opportunities, opened to them because of their litblogs. What’s happened has been less a  death than a process of natural selection, and Thays selects his favourites of the elite remainder. They are:

The Literary Saloon at The Complete Review
Arts Beat at the New York Times
The Guardian‘s Books Blog
Papeles Perdidos at  El País
The blog of Peruvian critic and writer Gustavo Faverón
Javier Aviles‘s El lamento de Portnoy — which translates as, you guessed it, Portnoy’s Complaint
Eterna Cadencia, the blog of one of the best bookshops in Buenos Aires, owned by a wonderful publisher of the same name
Linkillo by Daniel Link, also based in Buenos Aires
Fragmentos, by Christopher Domingues Michael at Letras Libres

It’s a sign of the relative newness of the medium that these wildly disparate sites are all classified under the same heading, given that some are maintained by individuals and others are major pages of the world’s most widely read newspapers. All the same, it’s a good list, to which I’d immediately add Stephen Mitchelmore at This Space, the blog at ReadySteadyBook, John Self‘s Asylum, and Spurious (natch). I’m sure I’m missing many. What are your favourites?


Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.